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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  April 22, 2012 2:00pm-2:45pm EDT

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alterman, whose new book is out, it is called "the cause." welcome, and thanks for being here. >> it's always a pleasure. i'm going to start at the end. and your final chapter in conclusion, you begin with the parallel of the current governor of new york. andrew cuomo, and his father. and you talk about the different causes that they are championing in their administrations. ..
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just like my father approached the death penalty when it was unpopular. and i thought, my god, this guy is taking a fortune from contributors and protecting their fortunes in doing so and comparing it to his father who was protecting the indigent and most condemned people in our society on death row. that's really annoying. and the thing is, at the same time this was happening and he was dealing with millionaires, quite popular, being celebrated by liberals for engineering the passage of a lie new york. i support the gay marriage law and i support most culturally liberal. i think the reason liberalism is in such bad shape today is that it has lost sight of the economic basis that made it so powerful and popular in the new deal beginning in the 1930's
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through the late 1960's. and, in fact, the last person who was able to articulate both a cultural and economic liberal vision was the governor's father, and i think that andrew cuomo just let the economic side slide to demonstrate the power of money in our society and focused exclusively on cultural liberalism and that is the great weakness today. >> eric alterman starting of our book tv conversation. [inaudible] >> they must have. there you go. and we welcome your participation. phone lines will be opened shortly and you can call into 025-85-3885 if you live in eastern or central time zone, not in a pacific (202)585-3886. tweet us or send us an e-mail. lots of ways to get involved. well, this is not a contemporary political analysis of liberalism. it's actually a history from the new deal for word.
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you talk about the foundational principles of fdr, and by wonder the foundational principles of liberalism in america today. >> i think there have been three phases of foundational liberalism. the first phase was classical liberalism which the principles upon which the country was founded by liberals. freedom of thought, religion, freedom of expression, association. very controversial ideas and that 16 1700's before we found a country on them. a very ambitious move. beginning in the 20th-century it became clear that these principles of liberalism were largely theoretical and the lives of most people. because big business had grown so powerful through the industrial revolution people had to work 60 hours a day -- 16 hours a day just to survive. put food on the table for their children. in some the new deal came to
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power in the 1930's under frank and roosevelt. the idea was that the government would provide an equalizing power for working men and women to face up to these forces that they could not resist on a round working together they could be strong enough. other forces like labor and churches, but the government, people could look to their government to give them a fair shot at the american dream. that is the most successful, a simple articulation of liberalism. roosevelt won and truman won five elections in a row. and the 1960's liberalism shifted for the third time, and that think this is the timers to win when dealing with the civil-rights movement it began to take on all of the group's causes who taught. [inaudible] first blacks and and women. days, the indigent people,
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american indians. whenever you think of the morality of their costs, and i probably support almost all of them, they have the effect of taking liberal of the economic pie which was the basis of its success in the first place. you cannot divide the pie that is growing smaller as you're trying to divide it. second of all, it gave americans who were not in one of these groups or did not add to the fire with these groups the idea that liberalism was giving special rights to other people. and it became very easy to target. so now only -- another reason, but 20 percent of americans call themselves liberal. sixty's 70 percent of americans support the agenda that falls under liberals and. ♪ -- >> take our first call. watching us right here in los angeles and your on. >> good morning and thank you
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for taking my call. susan, i have a question for you. i have a question for mr. altman . out of all the panels because i was there at the book festival yesterday. how come he did not choose to film the 9/11 panel? >> a lot of what we do here is covered by logistics'. we can only set our cameras up in one of the halls because of the resources involved. so wherever is happening in human all is well we're covering. >> mask a question. does c-span watch have something to do with that? come out with 9/11, we were attacked because of u.s. support for israel. >> there was no editorial decision in being in that room except the books that were happening right there. if you have a question for eric alterman? >> i think it's a very important thing.
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that was the most important panel you could probably have, you know. >> thank you. thank you, margaret. i want to use margaret's question because in the final chapter of your book one of those causes you talk about and liberal foreign policy is actually america support for israel and in some ways of this complicated the picture for help america has approached foreign policy. >> right. well, i don't make a big deal out of it, but i do believe it's true. i don't think liberals have never had the opportunity to develop a foreign-policy. at that because the cold war to happen so quickly after world war ii, there were mainly reacting to mccarthyism and then to the clash with china and the appearance of the march of soviet communism. so there were reacting and trying to keep their flank. very vulnerable because some liberals were cooperating with
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communist before. always felt kind of suspect. every liberal president has had to prove that he is tougher than the republicans. more willing to go the boar and shed blood in support of causes that are very rarely liberal causes. vietnam being the most obvious, but all the support for the iraqi war, a lot of it is based on fear. now, with the state of israel, it is -- as i'm sure your viewers know most americans views are quite liberal. supported barack obama by about 78% in 2008. today support him by well over 60 percent. the only cause that they are consistently conservative about is u.s. foreign-policy. somehow pertains to israel. the acronym for the american israel public affairs committee
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and its lobby for israeli interest, i don't want to say anything that sounds like conspiratorial, but most of it is in the open. what they have done is to find is real interest so widely and vastly that it has hampered, again, even after communism the ability of liberals to develop a foreign policy because there is such a powerful lobby. if you don't play their game you are asking for a lot of trouble. much easier just to play their games of the doe way, the same way the national rifle association. the u.s. chamber of commerce. in this case the reason it is weird and damaging to liberalism is because these people would be liberals, supporting a different more cooperative foreign-policy and development. less martial foreign-policy word not for the demand made on them
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made by that date and its allied >> to you agree with that your's contention that 9/11 change america forever? >> every time, one of my favorite events in america and i think everyone is trying to tell me, wonderful place for an author because you never see so many people in one place in the other time. every time i come here somebody says by what you did that is real cost 9/11? the world trade center, it's nonsense. there is no shred of evidence. it's true and something that i will probably get in trouble for saying with aipac that many of the people who joined the terrorist attack on the united states and whose support al qaeda are motivated by u.s. policy toward israel. much of hatred among radical islam toward america grows out
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of our support for israel. i think that's true, but i don't think that's a good reason not to do it. if you believe in the cause you should support it and let the chips fall where they make. there is -- if you don't question, the state of israel is believed by many islamic leaders and believers to be an enormous insult to islam because it's in the middle of the islamic part of the world. and, of course, israel is oppressing palestinians, treating them unfairly, denying wright's comex appropriating there land and is responsible , largely responsible for creating millions of refugees. i understand that they don't like israel and hate our support for it, but obviously i don't think that terrorism is the right response. i think that the united states and israel to take the solution to this problem more seriously so that the threat to the united
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states and israel and the entire west. >> back to earlier point in history which you talk about in this book, one to ask you what you believe the appropriate role of intellectuals should be in developing a governing strategy. thinking about your chapter on adlai stevenson and the time when intellectuals came to the point where one was seeking office unsuccessfully. but in today's society where should intellectuals be welcomed and how should they be part of developing a governing philosophy? >> if you don't mind wanted discontent the definition of average well as intellectual. i think i actually. [inaudible] i think of myself as a 1950's liberal. i really couldn't find it very much to admire in him and all. he did not support civil-rights,
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the labor movement, he talked a big game. similar to eisenhower. he terms people with his ability use big words. better on the cold war, but presidents often are better on issues like that before they become presidents. it's a tough question. i haven't thought about it in the way that you ask me, the role of intellectuals. bad politics. to slick politicians are bad at thinking or bad ideas. it's actually a topic that interests me, the role of ideas in politics. when you put forth an idea, how does it get translated into people's actual lives? i've written ten books and eight of them are about that. the answer is quite illusive. i think what intellectuals are best that is having an argument and then from that argument
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definitions emerged envisions emerge. then it's up to the politicians and the bureaucrats to try and figure out ways to make those real. through the 1960's we finally decided it was time to address black civil-rights. intellectuals have been arguing about this for a long time. then it became a matter of what was the best way to do it. decided by the court that it would be through school. integrating schools. now, if in this refugee intellectual made an argument at the time in the small publication that this was a big mistake to put it on the backs of schoolchildren. it should be done through marriage. at that time and at least 20 states you couldn't get married -- of black person could not get married to a white person. throughout the movie -- the
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book, culture, not just a moment, coming to dinner with katharine hepburn. the story of the movie, a white woman marrying a black man played by sydney porter, interracial marriage was illegal in 17 states while the movie was being made. so i think that there was a point that integration didn't go very well. high schools are still not very well integrated, and there is an incredible amount of violence and resistance. people have voluntarily get married, blacks and whites, it would be a much harder thing to resist. so that kind of thing is what differs. >> next is anthony watching in florida. hello. anthony, are you there? >> yes. >> go ed, please. >> okay.
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i'm on live now or what? >> yes, you are, sir. >> okay. i wanted to ask -- well, first of wanted to say that book tv is great. get more truth here than the private media. i love book tv book festivals. it's great. anyway, i wanted to ask what his opinion was, his inside on, i guess, access to the elite people, what his thoughts on the percentage of people that are actually out for the common good of the common people as opposed to just out for promoting themselves, their big corporations and what not and his views on inequality between, like, linemen out there risking their lives doing their jobs
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versus a congressman out there, you know, passing laws and doing what his constituents want him to do and teachers and what not and the value placed on those individuals, like linemen risking their lives to keep us with our. i just read a book that kind of, you know, brought that to mind, the fact that linemen are just overlooked. >> anthony, what do you do? >> the shop in florida. >> are ready your shop. thank you. radiator. okay. thank you very much for your question. the first one was the people you hang around with, how much they really are concerned about the everyday guy. >> can i just get this out first? it's true that i hang around with those people, but i teach
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and universities and colleges. i send my daughter to a new york city public school, took the subway, a middle-class person, and i live a pretty common life. i know some fancy people don't. but he has a very good point. one of the great strengths of america has been the anchor against liberal elites. that anger is focused on the arrogance of the liberal policy makers and commentators over the years he tell these people what is good for them without knowing much about their lives. and it's a fair criticism. it was a much more important criticism to make when liberals were actually making policy. they don't anymore. life's a conservative government. and the conservatives are just as divorced from common people. i mean, mitt romney spent more time at harvard and barack obama george bush went to harvard and
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yale as a conservative that sounds great. so there is a definite disconnect between the leader class of our country and the common people. a lot of the people that andrew was talking about are asked to make great sacrifices. they don't serve and so forth. so it is a real problem and has been a real problem, particularly for liberals. i think liberals have become to be paralyzed by their inability to speak to these people and have led conservatives feed them to menagerie without fighting back. i think liberals need to take their principles more seriously and fight back carter. those principles will turn out to be more consistent with these people's lives than the conservatives. what has happened is liberals have lost their confidence and the conservatives have been able to exploit the concern to make these people vote.
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>> he mentioned congress. was the congress of the 1950's and 60's more typical of the everyday american and today? >> well, 1950's and '60's did not care about black people. that was the deal. the democratic party ignored the concerns of blacks in this out to have no rights and were treated, you know, as non-citizens, kind of like the west bank palestinians are treated by the israelis. so i would not want to go back to that time. one thing that was better about that time was that money played a much smaller role in our political life. now money is so powerful and is getting far worse because of the citizens united decision that congressman are basically beholden to wealthy people and corporations far more than air to individuals. voting is a small part of the political process compared to the contributions made by lobbyists and corporations and
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wealthy people like the kock brothers. the politicians don't have to worry about people. >> anthony has given us a lot to work with. you have a multi page dedication. ultimately you dedicate this book to teachers. he mentioned teachers. why did you dedicate this book to teachers? >> first of all, i feel a great debt to the teachers i have had. i admire -- in fact, every single one of them i mention is a better teacher than i am. i see how hard it is since i've become a teacher. i think our country is crazy and a lot of ways. the culture is divorced from any sense of the motion of reality. one example of that is the conservative attack in wisconsin, michigan, and elsewhere on teachers as if it's teachers who are bankrupting this country rather than the fact that rich people don't pay
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taxes and we have to wars. teachers work hard for very little money. they are not treated as celebrities. yet they are the foundation of the american dream. the idea that they are overpaid were that day are pampered is ridiculous the fact that in wisconsin the governor has done attention to this issue is an example of corruption of politics and money. heavily financed by the koch brothers and using -- putting in laws that are alex laws. >> american legislative exchange >> so it's kind of a conspiracy on the part of the right using money from outside the state to turn the country into a far more conservative sight in the
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country really is, and it works on monday. the fact that they pick teachers ought to prove to people outside of the typical american values is true radical republican party. >> eric alterman, talking about his new book, "the cause." bill in indianapolis, hello. >> good afternoon. eric, big fan. really looking forward to reading the book, but i would like to ask you to about something that is near and dear to my heart, the presidency of jimmy carter. as a proud liberal and the back and am more and more proud of what president carter did that liberals thought that some much during the time he was in office . i saw study that was done that was really released about a month or so ago. i cannot remember who was by, but it waited the presidents from truman for word on their legislative success from liberal to conservative.
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guess who was the most liberal? surprise, a jimmy carter and then harry truman. reagan and bush. then i wanted to here, have you revisited the carter presidency about how he was as a liberal, somebody that we as liberals can be proud of for taking on hard issues like the panama canal and pork barrel spending, energy problems. i look back and think, gosh, this guy was a really hard worker and we don't give him much credit. thanks. >> thanks a very much for your call. i did spend a lot of time and jimmy carter in the book. he was a moralist. he was in the wrong job for that. a good time to run a campaign like that because it was after watergate and americans wanted to believe in their institutions. he never would have had the possibility of being elected as a one-term governor of georgia
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who, by the way, was it pretty close segregationist. more conservative candidates 21. and then he came into washington and had the same moralist approach. it was inspiring in some ways, as you say. he did a lot of brave things. look like it was impossible before he did it. washington does not respond to moralism. there is a quote in the book which i think is very evident where his sense of liberal problems actually where people come to jimmy carter. thinking, it's not going to work and here's why. the american people won't go for it. carter system, i'm sure after i speak to the american people and convince them of the rightness of my policy that will change their mind.
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he wanted to strangle jimmy carter when he heard those words. people don't change their minds because of the presidents. the change their minds because they think it's in their interest . getting people to see things in their interest is hard work and takes a lot of preparation and so forth. yet to take into account their position and belief in economic situation carter did not understand how politics works and thought he could just win policies by winning arguments. he ended up being very popular and is considered to be. [inaudible] reagan is considered a great president. jimmy carter affected the constitution and respected the way politics works. ronald reagan undermined the constitution and did something that he at the time he did it said we will be impeached for what we're doing, talking about iran-contra. yet while reagan won reelection and has today an enormous
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following he is rated quite highly in that survey you describe of jimmy carter is ready quite low because he is a loser . the business of america, there is nothing that americans disrespect as much. >> live from the los angeles times festival books. this is the largest book festival in the united states. the organizers say about 150,000 people will be here. a lot of crowds. right in the thick of things here. >> a lot of yelling. >> you're doing fine. how many years have you been at this? >> excuse me? >> how many years have you been out here for the festival? >> this is my fifth the sixth appearance. i, i have a book. >> what does participation in an event like this do for an author? >> well, i think mostly what it does, it makes me feel better about what i do. the people who put the effort into organizing these, the tree you very well.
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a beautiful room with lots of nice food. you get to see people do not otherwise see. it's like a convention for writers who live all around the country, not in new york police are not. and you get to see what mattered thousand people here because they care about books. no, a certain amount of success. you show up and someone might see you and say come speak at my university. a $20,000 lecture fee. that could happen in any situation, but it's more likely to happen and where more people are gathered. whenever there of this many people gathered to care about what you do it's a good idea to be here because life is unpredictable. all kinds -- i went to a panel yesterday and a woman i've never heard of, started out as a groupie and married a
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pornographer. a great talent for designing clothes. she was wearing some clothing sunday and elizabeth taylor said, i love your outfit and ended up moving into the dorchester hotel to live. they give her $50,000 to start a clothing line and now she's a famous clothing designer. her advice to all of young women is to always look fabulous because you never know what will happen. in a very small way that's true but life. you never know what's going to happen, so it's a good idea to show up and give it your best shot. when you have 100,000 people who care about what you do or vaguely care about what you do it's a great place for things like that to happen, even though you can't portray that. >> up next. hello, karen. >> hi. thank you. i know i have always been a self identified liberal, very proud of it. i've always been puzzled as to
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why many progressive americans that i know are very reluctant in the past 20 years to describe themselves as liberal. i will point out, being a liberal means open to ideas. yet can you point to anything culturally that you think has occurred in the country that has cost many progressive americans, people here used to think of themselves as liberals to no longer wish to identify themselves the way? thank you. >> question. i read about this a lot. as i said, only one in five americans are willing to come up to the level. i would say over 50 percent of americans are actually liberal in terms of what they believe the role of government should be in the kind of society they want to see emerge from that. there are two reasons for that. the first is the perceived liberal failures of the 1960's and '70's which i say have a bad rap. the vietnam war more than anything strangled liberalism.
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also probably and more importantly the hundreds of millions of dollars that had been poured into demonizing liberals by the right in places like the heritage foundation, american enterprise institute, fox news, the wall street journal, talk radio. all of these places liberalism is considered satanic. there was a guy in another panel yesterday he came up, not very popular here, but he said with this health care plan of obama it's a lot like hitler, isn't it that's just one step away from the kind of thing you hear on fox news and talk radio. the idea that liberalism is the equivalent of socialism. it's uncontroversial to call barack obama a socialist when he's not even really a liberal.
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the successful demonization by these institutions to have no responsibility at all to the truth -- fox news does not care something is true. talk radio is even worse. the liberals, again, because of the attacks, first in the fifties by mccarthy, the 60's by leftists, the new left. the 80's and 90's and the present by the right. they lost their ability to fight back. that's one less and less people want to associate themselves with liberals. >> progressive a synonym? >> progressive as the word that the right has begun to demonize. so if you ask -- and it happens every election. the last president who said i am a proud liberal was john f. kennedy in the 1960 election. he has defined the term before he said it. now ever since mcgovern if you
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ask president, argue a liberal, beginning with jimmy carter, there will say i don't like labels or i think of myself as a progressive because the word progressive is something that americans like. conservatives will call themselves progressives. i think of myself as a conservative liberal. on the liberal who is very skeptical about our ability to get things right. i support liberal goals, but i want to be careful about how we try to get there because there are terrible consequences to getting things wrong. >> next. in new jersey. >> hello. i'm a first-time caller. first of want to say thank-you to c-span for your book tv programs. i enjoy them very much. >> thank you. >> my question is a general question about political fire walls. when the constitution was written it was written, and they
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put in a fire wall to protect the politicians from religion. suppose to be separate. the politicians are elected to represent the people and uphold the constitution, but it seems now they need a fire wall to protect the politicians from excess of money and corrupting influence of money in many different ways. my question is, but do you recommend to have that take effect? work to do that? >> really two separate questions , one is about religion and one is about money. my reading of history -- and i have a ph.d. in american history , all of that was a long time ago. maybe i'm wrong. the original wall between religion and politics and american lives goes back to before the constitution was to protect the church from the state, rather than the other way around. it was the leaders, people like
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cotton, the puritan leaders who did not want the state telling the church how to behave. so they wanted a wall between religion and state. then when the founding fathers wrote the constitution they put it in there, in part for similar reasons, but in part because there would be someone who believed got credit the earth and then to call mark. they didn't think there should be any role, and the established church. like they had in england. that is become very confused and our history. when rick santorum was attacking kennedy recently for saying that -- allegedly saying that religious people should play no role, it was complete nonsense, one of the more nonsensical statements made by republican presidential candidate in this election which is saying quite a lot.
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yes, i'm a catholic, but the fact that i'm a catholic will not affect my decision making as president, which is a perfectly reasonable thing to say. he was not saying religious people should not be involved in politics. mitt romney is a very religious person. he was an elder in the mormon church. as an elder in the church he accepted a woman to give up her child because she was so committed to the mormon teachings. i actually -- democrats are afraid to talk about romney's beliefs, but i don't know much about mormon isn't. i'm interested in the role that mormon is and will play in his decision making because he is not willing to a say what john kennedy said which is as a catholic one allow to happen. because he plays such an important role in the mormon church in seems to be kind of like an orthodox rabbi being president. i would like to know more about it. a very long discussion about
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politics in 2008, and the market with that because i want to know what part obama, how he will behave. we have every right to know. i want to know what mitt romney believes because the line did gentleman was describing is being erased. question number two, monday, -- money, money is not only the most important thing in politics but has also become completely unaccountable. $100 million, we have no idea who gave the money. that could be supporting organizations or businesses that are giving money to karl rove to undermine all my beliefs and i have no way of finding that out. and then he can run commercials which are completely untrue -- and i'm not saying he is the
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only person. lots of people. >> including on the other side. >> including the other side, although most of the money is on one side. the people who are funding it are never going to be held responsible for it. it's a terrible situation. our politics, if we can't keep money out of politics, and you can't, then at least we should have some transparency and accountability for that money. we have lost that thanks to the supreme court decision of citizens united, so we are in a bad place right now. it's the single most important issue. >> we only have two more minutes. we will take a call. let's hear from dave in florida. >> hello. how are you? i have to ask you a question. i'm wondering how many times you have been to israel where you can give your opinion from the norman finkelstein school of thought that israel seems to be the problem in the middle east? you claim that israel is an arab land, yet you don't even know
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your own history about your own faith, but i guess that's because you're a self-hating jew. you'll know that is the palestinian government of hamas and the plo denied rights of the palestinians because of the threat of eliminating israel. >> what do you want me to say? >> tell people about the book you are writing. >> yes, i happen to be -- my buddy, when i don't go to the three groups that i am currently a part of, when i'm not busy writing my own daughters bought this book, when i'm not visiting israel i happen to be at work on a boat called good for the jews, a study of jewish cultural contribution from the 1940's to the 19 -- >> global your here? >> american jews. i teach two separate courses on
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judaism and jewish cultural contributions and jewish film and had many close friends in israel who i love and have enormous admiration for people. they represent an israel that i'm afraid you're unfamiliar with and who agree with me that the worst thing israel can do for israel and for jews is to continue to depress the palestinians in a very and jewish fashion. thank you for your call, and you're not invited to my parents' house. >> and as we end here we should tell the audience that mickey edwards, former congressman from oklahoma reviewed this book and the boston globe. >> conservative republican congressman. >> and suggest you need not be a liberal or progressive to enjoy the book. >> at like to thank him if anyone will tell him. >> last question, give one name of somebody that people will read about in this book that is
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not a common name in modern american history that it will learn more about. >> the author of a book called strange fruit which played an enormous role in listing in this country and inspiring and providing an example of a southern liberal who fought on every issue and made a great contribution to liberal culture that i had never heard up until i started this book. >> eric alterman, thank you so much for being with us. >> thank you for having me. >> as we continue our coverage from the los angeles times festival books and a couple of minutes you will meet the two people whose organizations put this festival together, the head of usc and the head of los angeles times. in a few minutes our next call in program right here from are set on the usc campus, lori andrews his book is about social that works and that that the privacy. it's called "i know who you are and i saw what you did." we'll be back in a few minutes.
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[background noises] >> we are on the campus of usc with the president of the university and also with the president and ceo and publisher of the tribune and los angeles times. gentlemen, the second year of your collaboration, although the 17th year for the los angeles times festival of the book. i'll start with you. tell me about the loss angeles times interest in books and why you continue in this digital age >> we feel that it is at the core of the very essence of what we do. it is an integral part of our day-to-day reporting in journalism, connecting consumers and interested readers with our advertising partners and talking about books in whatever form on printed page or back late or otherwise with screens is very important to us. it is the connective fabric for all of society, we feel. part of what makes a democracy
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work, especially in this election year, 2012, with you folks at c-span are certainly covering well, as you always do. >> the second year of your collaboration here bringing the festival to the campus of usc. tell people why you wanted it here. >> we wanted it here because we felt it's very fitting to have the festival on the university campus in the heart of downtown los angeles and also given the long history of close collaboration that we have with the l.a. times. so we are very excited to host this festival on our campus. >> what is new this year? >> well, i'm excited about last year the festival books exceeded by far attendance and any metric you want to take and look at, an overwhelming success. that is what makes it exciting entering this year's festival that we expect more than 150,000
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people to come on campus today. >> and for you, what's new that you're excited about? >> i'm excited because if you look at our lineup over 400 authors, 100 panels, and look at the audience this year, the people in this busy city that have a lot of other things going on, two nba teams in the playoffs, but hockey team, lot of competition. yet we have 150,000 people this weekend of all ages, at this city's, all mingling and have this common thread. they want to learn, the reid, be informed and make the authors who are as the verse as they are , indeed as diverse as this city is. >> how are you -- beyond what we see here, what else are you doing that people around the country and around the rest of


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